On the Edge of Purgatory


On the Edge of Purgatory

An Archaeology of Place in Hispanic Colorado

Bonnie J. Clark

Historical Archaeology of the American West Series

176 pages
26 illustrations, 6 maps, 6 tables


January 2012


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2012


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Southeastern Colorado was known as the northernmost boundary of New Spain in the sixteenth century. By the late 1800s, the region was U.S. territory, but the majority of settlers remained Hispanic families. They had a complex history of interaction with indigenous populations in the area and adopted many of the indigenous methods of survival in this difficult environment. Today their descendants compose a vocal part of the Hispanic population of Colorado.

Bonnie J. Clark investigates the unwritten history of this unique Hispanic population. Combining archaeological research, contemporary ethnography, and oral and documentary history, Clark examines the everyday lives of this population over time. Framing this discussion within the wider context of the changing economic and political processes at work, Clark looks at how changing and contesting ethnic and gender identities were experienced on a daily basis. Providing new insights into the construction of ethnic identity in the American West over hundreds of years, this study complicates and enriches our understanding of the role of Hispanic populations in the West.

Author Bio

Bonnie J. Clark is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Denver. She is coauthor of several books, including Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains, Denver: An Archaeological History, and Colorado Prehistory: A Context for the Platte River Basin.


"Bonnie J. Clark offers a concise, dense, and richly textured account of daily life in the late-nineteenth-century Hispanic settlements of rural southeastern Colorado."—Kelly L. Jenks, Center for Colorado and the West

"History buffs in comfortable armchairs will enjoy learning about the activities of other historical societies around the state, like tiny Aguilar's south of Walsenburg. Not to mention the scholars who will welcome Bonnie J. Clark's On the Edge of Purgatory as a model for the serious study of people and places."—Virginia Simmons, Colorado Central Magazine

"A new and reinvigorated scholarship on the archaeology of nineteenth-century Hispanic Americans in the American Southwest is emerging, and On the Edge of Purgatory by Bonnie Clark is a significant contribution."—J. Andrew Darling, Journal of Anthropological Research

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
List of Maps 
List of Tables 
Introduction: Finding Purgatory 
Chapter 1. Hispanic Colorado 
Chapter 2. Inhabiting the Lower Purgatory 
Chapter 3. Making a Living and a Life 
Chapter 4. Plazas and Community 
Chapter 5. Lessons from the Landscape 
Conclusion: The Archaeology of Places 
References Cited 


2014 History Colorado Barbara Sudler Award

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